I Know It’s Not A Contest, But …

If there was a “Best Sister” contest, my sister Teresa would win.

Here’s how I know.

  • She’s been a nurse her entire life. Besides teaching, few careers come close in required commitment. The best teachers love their students, but nurses love sick and dying patients.
  • She loves everything. Not just sick and dying humans, but animals and plants. Her pets are all rescues, and without her and her husband to love those kooks, I doubt they would be alive.
  • She has taken care of me during some of the lowest/sickest  periods of my life. Paying my doctor bill when I had bronchitis but not health insurance? Check. Driving my car with me in it when I moved halfway across the country? Yep. Sending at least three birthday cards and a generous check to my son every year? Always. And to hear her tell it, I’m the amazing sister.

Teresa is my older sister. (I have a fantastic younger sister, too.) Teresa doesn’t have a reality-TV show or a YouTube channel. Her greatness can be measured not only by the number of patients she has nursed, or clinical evaluations she has written, but also by the hands she has held and smiles she has coaxed, actions that are rarely counted as important in today’s world. As my way of introducing her to readers, on her birthday, I am sharing a short speech she wrote, more than 10 years ago. I re-read it from time to time, to remind myself of how blessed I am to have her as my sister.

My name is Teresa … and I am proud to be a nurse.
I always knew I would be a nurse.
From the time I was 4 years old. When I was asked what I wanted to be … the answer
was ALWAYS the same …
“I am going to be a nurse.”
When family members would try and compel me to consider another career …
one with more prestige … more money … maybe a doctor?
I always said …
I am going to be a nurse.
And …
I did …
Become a nurse.
Nursing had afforded me experiences that have shaped who I have become.
I have learned that I am not the only person in the world.
I have learned that no matter what is going on in my life … someone else has bigger issues
than I do.
I have learned to use all of my senses.
I have learned to trust my gut, my heart and my intuition.
I have learned the power of not only hearing, but also of listening to what is being said …
both verbally and nonverbally.
I have learned that sometimes saying nothing is the best thing to do.
I have learned that I do not have all the answers.
I have learned that illnesses bring out the best and worst of my patients.
I have learned that illnesses bring out the best and worst of my patients’ families and
I have learned that crying is an acceptable way of caring for my patients.
Experiences I have had over the past 22 years:
I have held a woman up while she strains to push her child into the world.
I have held up her newborn baby so she can see that he is perfect.
I have given a newborn his first bath.
I have cared for a toddler who does not understand why people are sticking needles into
I have comforted the parents of the toddler who do not understand why people are
sticking needles into their toddler.
I have cared for a child who will not go home and have seen the pain in the parents’ eyes
when they realize the same.
I have cared for a teenager who was undergoing chemotherapy while missing her senior
I have seen the fear in the eyes of a young husband as he tells his wife she will be OK as
she is wheeled to the OR. … And then seen the joy in those same eyes as she is returned to
her room. … and to him … OK.
I have helped a man make the decision to stop fighting a terminal illness and go on
Hospice … and held that same man’s hand as he took his last breath on his journey from
this world to the next.
I have seen families struggle to deal with the loss of a loved one … and bravely make the
decision to donate organs so something good will come of their loss.
I have seen a flaccid, diseased heart taken from the chest of a man who would die without
a transplant.
I have seen a healthy heart sewn in that same chest … and the patient going
home … healthy … and very thankful for a second chance.
I have coordinated the evaluation of a patient facing dialysis if he did not get a kidney
transplant … and then the evaluation of his living kidney donor … his wife … and the
miracle of the donation and transplant happening on Valentine’s Day.
There is not another profession in this world that affords one the diversity of experiences
that nursing does.
Nursing is not for wimps.
Nursing is not for the faint of heart.
Nursing is not for glory seekers.
If you have drive, self-confidence and a caring heart … you may have what it takes.
I can say with great certainty that in my career:
I have been tired, but never bored.
I have been frustrated, but never beat.
I have been challenged, but never scared.
And … I have never regretted saying …
I am going to be a nurse.

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